Prime Championships Results Analysis: Episode I – The Phantom Meta

I’ve been having a look at some of the results from the first 35 Prime Championships, which have been carefully compiled by iRebel.  My background is in statistics, so Claus asked me to do a bit of number crunching and see what I can find out from these results.

First off, I only have the top cut for these tournaments.  This means that while my data is a bit limited, I’m sort of looking at lots of mini-tournaments between players who were all good enough to make it to the top cut of a Prime.  I’ve got data on 24 top8’s and 11 top4’s, so 236 decks battling it out in 201 matches – a good place to start.

Here’s what I’ve found.

  1. Popularity: ReyLo is number 1 with Chopper Droids and Aphra catching up fast

My graph above shows every deck that’s appeared at least twice, while one-of-a-kind off-meta decks are labelled “other”.

I’ve split the bars to show how many of these Top Cuts resulted in an overall victory.

You can see that although 4-LOM supports, Palp, Aphra and ReyLo have racked up a decent number of victories, it looks close to what you might expect given how popular these decks are.  Chopper Droids has a big slice of green suggesting they might be doing better than expected and “other” has a tiny slice of green suggesting they’re doing badly: more on this later.

  1. The effect of World’s and the shifting meta

I thought I’d split the data into the early 15 (pre-Worlds) and recent 20 (post-Worlds) Primes.  This is what that looks like:

There’s clearly been a bit of a shake-up since World’s.  4-LOM-Grievous-Sentinel has increased from 4% to 9%, and Chopper Droids have increased from 11% to 18%.  Not surprising given they placed first and second at World’s.

ReyLo on the other hand has been steadily declining in popularity and has been overtaken by both Chopper and Aphra decks.

Off-meta decks have more than halved in popularity, from 11% to 5%, as the meta seems to be solidifying around key character line-ups.

And the last thing to note: mill is on the rise (1% to 4%).

  1. Deck performance: accounting for popularity

Working out how well a deck is performing while accounting for popularity is a little tricky.

But I had some time on my hands, so I wrote a computer program to run a series of simulations.  In each simulation, I got the computer to replay all the top cuts of every Prime 10,000 times, and give me the results of these tournaments.  I then worked out the average deck performance from these simulations, and the range of results we could expect purely by random chance.

I compared this random range to actual deck performance, to give an adjusted performance score for each deck.

All this produced a lot of data, so I’ve summarised the lot in a colourful graph:

Those coloured dots show the deck’s performance score.  In these results, 0 is average performance, anything above the line is good, anything below the line is bad.  I’ve coloured by performance: red is bad, blue is average, green is good.

Those boxes on the graph show what sort of performance you’d expect half of the time (the inter-quartile range for you stats nerds) so we expect about half the decks to fall within the boxes (blue) and half outside (red or green), which is pretty much what we see.

The little lines (known as whiskers) show the range of performance you’d expect 9 times out of 10, so if your deck performance sits outside these whiskers, the deck is performing either really well (dark green), or really badly (dark red).

What does it all mean?

Of the five decks that have racked up the most wins so far: Chopper Droids (9 wins), Aphra (5), 4-LOM (3), Han Droids (3) and ReyLo (3), all except ReyLo are performing better than you’d expect given representation.  ReyLo on the other hand is doing very badly considering how many people are playing it.

The other decks that are doing well are Palp3 decks and Thrawn supports, though the latter has only had two outings so far so it’s a bit early to tell.

Chopper Droids are really outperforming their representation, while Satine Droids seem to be underperforming.  Prior to the 3PO nerf, Satine droids was looking like the stronger of these two decks.  But the nerf really hit Satine droids hard. Chopper droids on the other hand weren’t too badly affected, and this is what we’re seeing in the results.

Prior to World’s, 4-LOM-Grievous-Sentinel decks were massively outperforming their very small representation, but as popularity in this deck has grown, it seems to be performing a bit more averagely.  This may mean that its early performance was a bit of a fluke, or maybe players with less experience of this deck are giving it a go while the rest of the field are getting used to how to combat its strategies.

Off-meta decks are doing very poorly.  If you turn up with an off-meta deck idea, you should expect to do badly, though I always love seeing off-meta decks at the top tables.

  1. Affiliation: do we have a balance in the force?

Here’s how popularity of villain versus hero stacks up:

It’s somewhat even, which is nice to see.  However, about two thirds of hero decks out there are R2-3PO decks.  I’d love to see another hero deck pop up in the meta (though please not mill), but at the moment it looks like villain have the biggest bag of tricks (Palp, Aphra, Delve/Fist).

  1. Does the meta need a shake-up?

We were recently told by Matt Holland on Facebook that there might be a meta shakeup before Covert Missions drops.  Looking at the results of this analysis, if something is going to be nerfed, Hero Droids and Villain Supports seem like the most likely target (nothing new there).  If these decks are hit, it could really shake things up.

However, looking at the wide range of decks being played, it seems like the meta is pretty healthy.  At the moment, the 4 most popular decks account for about 50% of the meta. Compare this to Nova which took place before the most recent round of nerfs, where the 4 most popular decks accounted for 78% of the meta (Jabba, Satine droids, Chopper droids and ReyLo).

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